D. A. Rajapaksa and Mahinda Chintana
President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi at the 41st D. A.
Rajapaksa commemoration ceremony at Tangalle. Minister sChamal
Rajapaksa, T. B. Ekanayake look on.
Statue of D. A. Rajapaksa at Tangalle.
Pix: Sudath Malaweera
It is a great honour and privilege to write about a great man
instrumental in changing the destiny of fellow citizens at a time when a
change was badly needed for the nation. The nation was in need of
drastic changes for the benefit of the common man who was overlooked and
forgotten. Nature of backwardness and suppression by the colonial
masters and their local agents in the Deep South during that era was
amply demonstrated in the book "Village in the Jungle" and the
administrative notes of Government Agents who were as powerful as
provincial Kings during the foreign and foreign led administrations. As
Leonard Woolf explained in his diaries, deep down South depended on dry
agriculture and irrigation. Irrigation in fact was the basis of ancient
civilization which was neglected by the British as their intention was
to cultivate newly introduced commercial crops such as tea, rubber and
coconut for the benefit of the British Empire. Peasant had no place in
the society. Their properties were confiscated or forced to sell.
Legislation was brought in to acquire uncultivated lands by the state
to grow commercial crops. The livelihood based on irrigation and
cultivation was nearly ruined forcing the native population to be
labourers or unemployed. Don Alvin Rajapaksa popularly known as DA
realised the problems and difficulties of the peasants due to the
shortage of land and a proper system of irrigation for cultivation. He
himself has been a farmer and engaged in dairy farming and cattle
breeding. He enjoyed and engaged in farming as his profession.
"Buddiagama" and "Madamulana" the birth place and the origin "Rajapaksas"
is part of our history, today having produced the Executive President
and a number of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament. There was
hardly anybody in Ceylon to look after the common man until educated
youth in the 1930s explored the world for education, and returned with
new National minded and anti imperial sentiments. The colonial masters
were compelled to give concessions based on the conviction that Ceylon
is capable of minding their own affairs. Slowly and steadily political
and administrative powers were transferred to locals in stages. We were
far ahead of Africa and South Asians were considered to be the pioneers
in obtaining partial self-rule and independence from colonial masters.
The ripple effect spread length and breadth of Ceylon and provincial
leaders emerged all over the country. Indian freedom movement influenced
our influential and educated community. D. B. Jayatilaka, Arunachalam,
T. B. Jayah and many young and able were in the forefront agitating for
freedom when Indian freedom movement was in the peak when Gandi Nehrue
and the leaders were pressurising the British Empire to liberate the
colonies including the Indian Sub Continent. Whilst the leaders of
Ceylon freedom movement were agitating in the centre DS, NM, SA, Colvin,
DM, DA and colleagues organised the peripheries.
D. M.'s sudden death
D. M. Rajapaksa's sudden death on May 18, 1945 created a vacuum in
Ruhuna and the Legislative Council. DA was virtually compelled to sign
nominations due to the pressure of peasants, Sangha and the public with
whom he has had a close rapport. He signed nominations whilst in the
paddyfields. He was elected uncontested at the by election on July 14,
1945. He tried to help the peasants by implementing a procedure to lease
state lands in small and large scale, for cultivation and commercial
crops in order to uplift the living conditions of peasants in the
Honest and simple
Until his death in 1967, he led an exemplary, honest and simple life.
He was not inclined to accumulate wealth. He did not own a vehicle at
the time of death. He laid the foundation for the children to be in
politics by grooming them to be honest unassuming and people friendly.
He found it hard to educate the children with a large family with his
income from cattle and paddyfields. His wealth has been the goodwill and
closeness to people and relations. His political thinking and strategy
was simple and straightforward. He took quick decisions independently
and instantaneously. The decision taken by him in July 1951 to cross
over has been the most important and crucial decision taken ever in his
life as he had a bright future in the UNP, had he stayed back. Mr. S. W.
R. D. did not know DA too was crossing over until the fateful and brave
act of DA, who took this hard and independent decision independently.
His decision has changed the political culture and the introduction of
Westminster modelled democracy and two party system in Sri Lanka. He has
long thought and waited for the opportunity to take this most crucial
decision. Therefore he is a co-owner of the achievements and the
changes. Thereafter he stuck to the party he formed and the children
followed suit. DA and children were the most faithful and reliable for
the party and the people's movement. He had many responsibilities, a
large family and peasants to look after, who were depending on him. His
decision to cross over changed the entire fabric of the Nation in all
respects. He realised the only way to serve the downtrodden and
suppressed peoples is by changing the entire outlook of the social
fabric. History has proved him correct. Today the backward and
downtrodden district he nursed is producing large number of educated
professionals, intellectuals spread throughout the country and worldwide
as a result of the liberalisation of education and encourage the village
youth to educate and look forward for professionalism and employment.
He has taken the biggest risk in life by taking the independent
decision to cross over with no sound financial or professional
background as SWRD. He realised the need to change with Oxford
background and subsequent political experiences. DA realised it with his
education commitment and dedication to the peasants and downtrodden in
Ruhuna. DA had a family to look after with no sound financial backing
and followers awaiting his political success for their future. SWRD was
exceptionally wealthy and professionally qualified. He had many other
options, whereas DA has only a few options. The decision taken by both
leaders changed the political culture and introduction of Westminster,
two party systems in action. SLFP started initially with 6 members and
the welcome speech at the inauguration was made by DA and the party
chose the hand as the party symbol; the symbol, DA chose for his
elections in 1947. This shows DA's long sighted vision and strategies.
DA's son Mahinda after 50 years made the same welcome speech at the
party and currently the leader of the SLFP DA formed with SWRD and
colleagues. All his sons have pledged to follow his vision and
intentions, out of which Mahinda, Chamal, Gotabhaya and Basil are in the
forefront. Mahinda is the star of the family and the other brothers are
in the team assisting the leader in the implementation of DA and Mahinda
Mahinda Chintana was not a spontaneous vision or a sudden emergence
of a plan of action. It is a gradual transformation of the thinking,
vision aspirations of the peasants and downtrodden in Ruhuna which is
not different from other parts of the country and the directions of the
elders who were committed and dedicated to serve. Mahinda was elected by
the people for a period of 6 years as the Trustee of the nation to
implement the program and the vision formulated based on the program
vision and action plans tested and implemented by elders of the family.
Mahinda Chintana states "A ruler is only a temporary trustee and not
an owner of your children's heritage" and it is happy to note that
Mahinda is living up to the expectations of Mahinda Chintana and the
wishes of the people.
Rajapaksa family is active in politics over 70 years, which is rare
in any slandered in the field of world politics. Medamulana produced the
first Executive President from Ruhuna and a number of Cabinet Ministers
and Members of Parliament from the same family. DA is responsible and
should be credited for laying the foundation and guiding the younger
generation to implement his vision and wishes.
Mahinda Chintana under A PROSPEROUS VILLAGE states as follows. "My
life has been blessed by the winds of purity and fragrance that sweeps
across the fields of "Kurakkan" (millet) in our village. The village
life has created a deep sense of love, affection, environmental
consciousness and spirit of innovation that had helped nature the dream
such that I have for all village communities of Sri Lanka...I wish to
have all villages of the country emerging as micro-centres of growth on
modern lines, whilst retaining the strengths impressive and future of
rural life that had perished over the past few years."
When the world is in economic and political turmoil engulfed in
credit crunch which has destabilised the economies of giants, we are
comparatively stable due to our local and village based economy founded
on agriculture. DA's simple village life devoid of sophistication and
unlimited consumerism has proved to be the solution to meet the
challenges and demands.
Village needs only basic consumer items and services; not a
complicated lifestyle and way of life. What is in need today is a
developed road network and modern communications facilities to curtail
unwanted travel. Mahinda realised these realities and at every available
opportunity addressed the needs and implemented innovative methods. DA
as well as Mahinda were not given traditionally powerful Ministries.
Mahinda was trained from childhood to manage with available resources.
He too led a simple and hard life devoid of sophistication. As the
Minister dealing with the road network he introduced setting up of roads
right round the country. He mooted knowledge centres and has set up over
600 Nanasalas to enable the wealth and the knowledge of the village to
be enhanced. He mooted access roads through Maga Naguma and
infrastructure development. He made weak Ministries workable and
DA Chintana and Mahinda Chintana
This remarkable transformation of DA Chintana to a more vigorous and
dynamic Mahinda Chintana has been proved correct and acceptable by the
local as well as the world in turmoil today. World is pleading to revert
from the urbanisation process to the village life again. Today 50 per
cent of the world population live in urban environments. They say this
should change. DA never stayed in Colombo after the Parliamentary
proceedings and other commitments. He came back home, to live with
nature and his people.
Water as life blood
Water is the life blood of farming and is one of the prime resources
of our country. Mahinda Chintana is firm that the owner of this resource
should be the people of this country. DA had a plan to set up a network
of small tanks for irrigation and cultivation. He initiated large and
small scale tanks which have catalysed food production to the current
Mahinda through Mahinda Chintana has improved this further as follows
in Mahinda Chintana "It is my intention to complete the 10,000 tanks
program and implement multipurpose irrigation schemes such as
Moragakanda, Uma Oya, North Central Main Canal, Duduru oya, Menik Ganga,
Kumbakan Oya, Yan Oya, Hada Oya, Kirima Oya and Urawa".
Mahinda and father
Under paddy and other Food crop production, Mahinda affectionately
speaks of his father as follows" My father washed his hands from the
waters flowing from the sluices of the paddyfields before signing his
nomination papers. Therefore the terminology associated with paddy
farming is not alien to me. Over the past 40 years, I have been dreaming
about farmer families in their own decent homes, with two wheel tractors
and paddy storage facilities. I believe that I will be able to finally
realise this dream." Mahinda has addressed paddy and other food crop
production, seed production, fertiliser Agro Technology and financial
resources, other crops, plantation and dairy industry.
DA has been one of the leading cattle breeders in the district. He
had the goodwill and influence right round the villages. It is a pity
that today 7000 cattle are slaughtered daily, and the local production
of milk is only 20 per cent which today is in further decline. In the
West the powdered milk is being used as sweeteners though we consume it
in place of liquid milk. We were self sufficient in liquid milk until
the Milk Board and the production were done away with and the
introduction of imported powdered milk by multinational companies.
Mahinda Chintana has addressed this in line with DA thinking as follows
"I will provide cross bread milking cows to rural families on
concessionary plans. Land, water, equipment and technology required by
local entrepreneurs to establish small and medium scale livestock farms
will also be provided. I will encourage the consumption and production
of fresh milk".
In the entire length and breadth of the Mahinda Chintana the main
thread has been the vision and thinking of DA and the aspirations of
peasants of Sri Lanka. Mahinda Chintana states "Mahinda Vision has been
based upon the proposals and suggestions of thousands of my fellow
citizens who have been closely associated with me over the past 37 years
of my political journey". His political journey was moulded by DA and
the power behind and the vision based on. An Undivided Country, National
Consensus an Honourable peace is the main theme in the most challenging
threat to the nation on terror and terrorism which has taken the nation
backward economically and internationally. Chamal, the eldest son of DA
who is an unassuming and quiet politician with similar features and
temperament of his father. Gotabhaya is performing so well in his area
of expertise having won over the confidence of the nation in the
humanitarian, liberation and war on terror. Basil is hard working and
means business, who is capable of performing any job entrusted and his
recent shuttle diplomacy has shown his expertise and abilities in the
area of international relations. These are assets to Mahinda and the
nation at this hour of need.
The major part of the credit for the success of his children should
be credited to DA and his beloved wife Mrs. Samarasinghe Dissanayaka who
moulded the lives of children to be patriotic people friendly and
Hambantota district is fast developing in all respects. The emergence
of an international harbour, airport, industries, cultivation,
irrigation and the educated youth in every household is a reflection on
DA his vision commitment and long and arduous hard and public duties. In
addition to public duties and service to the people, DA has helped
thousands on personal basis. On a personal note this writer remembers
with a sense of gratitude that it is DA who laid the foundation to mould
his education and upbringing at some stage in his life. Mahinda has a
long way to go in order to bring this nation to glory. It is the duty of
every one of us to help him achieve the aspirations of the people in our
own interest. He has gone beyond an individual. He is a personality who
heads the Government and the main branch which is the Executive in
Mahinda Chintana is the future and the future program of and for the
nation. It is time to shed all political and other differences until we
lay the foundation of success and glory.
The writer is a Solicitor in England and Wales- Founder D. A.
Rajapaksa Foundation in the United Kingdom